3:16 (Part One)

Today, we begin a series that will take us through November. Our Scripture is the most familiar in all the Bible. It is the “Gospel within the Gospel.”

John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“For God so loved…” Really, can there ever be any more significant words than, “For God so loved…”?

All the hope we’ll ever have; all the encouragement we’ll ever need; all the help we could ever want; and all the future we could ever dream of are found in those words, “For God so loved…”

We are going to explore what that means in detail over the next few weeks. Be here, and bring someone with you.

Today is, “I Love My Church Day.” We do this every so often to just have fun and to thank God for our church. I tell you, you could not be in a better church today. What you folks are doing for our children and our families and our community and world is just incredible. I’ve never been more excited for us. I’ve never felt we had greater potential than right now. I’m absolutely amazed that your heart is to make what we do not about us, but serving others.

We are going to make a difference. We aren’t slowing down. We aren’t pausing. We aren’t taking a break. We are going to change the culture of our community by the help and grace of God.

I love my church!

“For God so loved the world” that He gave us the church.
• You know, the Lord came and changed the eternal destiny of His followers and placed them in our community.
• In His Wisdom, He knew we were better together.
He called us the “called-out ones.”
• He brought believers together to heal them, restore them, and grow them.
• His disciples went throughout the land winning people to Jesus, brought them together and called them the church – the called-out ones – and together they changed the world.
• I love the church. I love the concept. I love the structure. I love the mission. I’m overwhelmed at what the church does.
For one moment, imagine what this world would be like without the church.
For one moment, imagine what our community would be like without the church.
Now imagine what you and your family would be like without this church.

• With all of the church’s flaws and mistakes and shortcomings, still it marches on changing lives, salvaging families, and impacting the world.

I know it is under attack. I know persecution is rampant and there is still more to come. But you mark this moment and note my words: when all of hell has risen against it and Satan has inflicted his worst blows – when the war has accelerated and its enemies unite – remember Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church…”

I love my church!

You know, one of things I love about our church is that we are made up of so many different and diverse people. Multiple nationalities. People tune in from 56 countries on live stream.
The educated and not-so are here. Some with money and some with nothing are here. Some with so many talents you make us sick! And some, like me, don’t have a lot to offer God.
Many of you have it together. Most of us don’t.
But here, we are one. Here, in this church, no preferential treatment. In God’s eyes, we are no different. We all are utterly lost and hopeless without Jesus. And really, we have nothing to boast about. But for the grace of God! That’s our mantra.

• That’s why I love our church! Our church is made up of a lot of hurting people.
a. Many of you are lost. Life has beat on you and you’ve lost hope. You’ve been used up and chewed up and spit out. The system doesn’t work for you. Family disappointed you. The church let you down. Even God seems to have forgotten you.
b. Many come from other ministries.
c. Some have been hurt in church and disillusioned with a Pastor or other Christian.
d. One of the hardest things to ever overcome is church conflict. It’s so emotional and spiritually draining.

• It makes us lose confidence in one another. After all, if you can’t trust Christians and someone who is a spiritual leader, who can you trust?
• I think we all have the tendency to forget no matter how holy and Scripturally knowledgeable a person may be, we are all still fallen and imperfect people.
• I’ve known Jesus personally for 42 years. I went to a Christian school and majored in Bible. I have a graduate degree from a seminary. But I’m just as prone to messing up and blowing it and disappointing you as anybody.

e. And if you are here hurting from a fellow believer or community of believers, first let me say, I’m glad you are here.

I’m glad you came here. We’ve prayed for hurting people to come and be healed and made whole again. And I’ve heard from many of you that you just need to sit and worship and be quiet with God and be made whole again. I totally understand. It can be a horrible experience to be offended in church and by fellow Christians.

But now, here’s my whole heart today. There comes a time you and I have to get back in the saddle again.
I want this point to burn through your pain today and the sweet Holy Spirit to say to you again, “Will you ride with me?”
• Of course, that is easier said than done for most.
• It takes faith. It takes risks. But what is life if you don’t get outside of what’s comfortable?

I did something the other day I’ve only ever dreamed of doing. Skydiving. Yes, I jumped out of an airplane – a perfectly good airplane. What an experience! What a rush! 

Sometimes you’ve just got to push through your fears – your pain – your struggle – and just do it! The great theologian, John Wayne, said: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

• There is so much to be done. Our families are lost. Our kids are confused. They’re told nothing’s wrong. Any “god” will do. Sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Biblical marriage – one man, one woman – is antiquated. The government will take care of you. And parents are keeping you from your right to be free. And we all owe you an easy ride.
Our lives are in shambles. Our government is dysfunctional. Our world is in chaos. Men are dying. Souls are crying.
And you and I – we are charged as dying men and women to go share life with dying men and women!
We have the answer! We have the hope. We have the healer. Oh church, there is only one thing worse than being lost and that is being lost and no one is looking for you. Well, I’m looking for you today!

To this community I say – Wincog is on a mission - we are looking for you! We’re looking in Martinsburg and Inwood, Berkeley Springs and Paw Paw, Romney and Augusta, Capon Bridge and Wardensville. We’re looking in Woodstock, Strasburg, Front Royal and Berryville and Stephens City and Clear Brook and Winchester. And sooner or later, we’ll send somebody to Gore!

To our world – we are looking for you! We are looking in Israel. We are looking in Nicaragua. We are looking in the Caribbean. We are looking in Africa, and China and Romania.

We are saddling up. We will ride! Get back in the saddle and ride! Let’s go and take back our peace with God. Let’s go and reclaim our joy. Let’s go and restore our families and change our communities!

The local church is the hope of the world, but unless we saddle up and ride we will waste into oblivion. And someday someone will say, “They used to be a church. They used to have hope. They were once making a difference!”

Oh let it be that the Winchester Church of God rides today and until Jesus comes on the clouds of glory on His white horse to rescue us and take us home!

Will you partner with us today and saddle up?